Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Stranded returnees from UAE demand PCR labs for COVID tests at airports

A group of the returnees raised the demand at a news conference in Chattogram on Wednesday, claiming around 20,000 of the expatriates have been stranded due to the UAE’s travel rules.

One of the rules stipulates passengers from Bangladesh must present a negative result of a rapid PCR test conducted at the departure airport within six hours before departure.  

Yasin Chowdhury, coordinator of a council of Bangladeshi expatriates in UAE, said they had launched demonstration for the demand 17 days ago, but the relevant ministries could not take visible steps.

The expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry wrote to the health ministry for PCR machines, but the health ministry said it had no surplus PCR machine, according to him.

“And CAAB (Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh) says they don’t have enough spaces at the airports to set up PCR machines at the airports. Where will we, the stranded expatriates, go if one ministry passes the buck to another?”           

Yasin also demanded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention to meet their demand.

“If Uganda, India, Pakistan and Nepal can set up PCR machines at airports, why a Digital Bangladesh cannot do it?”   

Many Bangladeshi workers’ visas have expired after the United Arab Emirates started barring entry to non-UAE resident travellers from Bangladesh on May 12 to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, said the council’s Member Secretary Newaz Kabir. 

He urged the government to discuss extension of their visas with the UAE at the diplomatic level.

The council announced a sit-in outside the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sept 6.

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